Despite rumblings that a trade would not go through due to the belief that a long-term contract would not get done, Adrian Gonzalez was traded from the San Diego Padres to the Boston Red Sox in exchange for coveted pitching prospect Casey Kelly, first base prospect Anthony Rizzo, outfielder Reymond Fuentes and a player to be named later.
Gonzalez is currently under contract for this season at $6 million, with a long-term contract extension expected to come in the next few days. Gonzalez's agent is said to be seeking a Mark Teixeira-type contract for the slugging first baseman who was once a first-overall pick by the Florida Marlins.
The AL East has been the most hotly contested divisions over the past couple seasons.
With the way the Yankees spend, New York is expected to constantly compete at the top of the division. The Tampa Bay Rays have built from the the ground up with prospects Evan Longoria and terrific starting pitching, such as David Price.
Unfortunately for the Red Sox, that meant finishing six games behind the Wild Card-winning Yankees in 2010.
Boston had to make a big splash this offseason. The Yankees have already been active this winter and have been actively pursuing Cliff Lee. The Rays have been conscious of payroll considerations, but they still have four superb starting pitchers.
But this was the wrong move for the Red Sox to improve.
Adrian Gonzalez is one of the top sluggers in baseball. Gonzalez has hit 161 home runs over the last five seasons. He has had 99 or more RBIs every year for the last four years. Gonzalez also is one of the more patient sluggers in the major leagues and has averaged a .400 on-base percentage over the last two years while walking more than he struck out in 2009.
In essence, there are not many hitters better than Gonzalez out there.
The problem with the move was two-fold. The first is easy to see: The problem with the Red Sox last season was not a power outage. Boston was second in slugging percentage and home runs last season, with .451 and 211, respectively. The Red Sox also found themselves in the top five in the majors in average, on-base percentage, doubles, runs and RBIs.
Essentially, this Red Sox club is an offensive machine already. Gonzalez is a terrific player, and he improves Boston's lineup immensely, but was he really what they needed?
The Red Sox had to give up some big talent for Gonzalez, particularly Casey Kelly and Reymond Fuentes. Boston has yet to sign Gonzalez to a long-term deal, which is obviously expected, considering the talent they gave up to get him.
Boston would have been better off going after one of the big-name free agents in either Carl Crawford or Cliff Lee. The Red Sox were in the bottom five in the league in stolen bases, a statistic that would not be repeated if they signed Crawford.
Cliff Lee may have been a bit more expensive than signing Gonzalez, but not by enormous amounts. Boston's pitching was their Achilles heel last season. The Red Sox were 22nd in ERA and gave up the third most walks of any pitching staff. Signing Cliff Lee could have inserted a third ace into the rotation along with John Lackey and Clay Buchholz.
It was pitching and speed that Boston lacked. With Adrian Gonzalez, they got better, just not in areas of need.